Monday, December 6, 2010

News as big as ...

We're moving back to Texas!

Crazy right? I know. And we'll be there before the New Year. Andrew accepted a job at Baylor. He's super excited about it and we're all looking forward to living near some old friends and family.

We're sad to leave our friends up North. Our time here in Canada has been great.

I'll try to keep up communications with some more frequency, in the meantime, I can assure you that babies are not conducive to packing. I put stuff in boxes; she takes it out. Great game. Slow progress.

Is this the face of a child who knows she's moving to Texas?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But we were taking a nap

While it's true that having children causes you to reassess your priorities; it's not exactly a shortcut to attaining altruism. We now value sleep as being one of the greatest of all possible goods. We go to great lengths to let sleeping babies lie.

So this only partially justifies our hesitation when asked to evacuate our home last Saturday. Katya and I had just laid down for a nap, when the policeman came to the door. There was a natural gas leak in the neighbourhood and he suggested that we leave the area immediately. Andrew only later realized how far eschew our priorities have taken us, as he hesitated because, "My wife and daughter are taking a nap right now, do we have to go?"

He was rationally considering the distance from the source of the leak and the diameter of the blast radius. We could be protected from the explosion by the basement walls...

And then maybe he noticed the odd look he was getting from the policeman. We did not in fact have to go; it was a voluntary evacuation. But could we kindly refrain from taking dangerous measures like starting our car.!?!

"I'll go wake them up," Andrew said.

Our flight from our home, lacked the intensity you might expect from such a feat. We put the baby in the stroller and walked down the block past the blockade of fire trucks and emergency workers. As we headed for the park where Octoberfest was in full drunken swing, I couldn't help thinking, were we later going to regret not grabbing a few family heirlooms or identification papers?

We stood among the lederhosen-clad revelers watching the Bavarian Strongmen pull dump trucks, laughingly wondering if all refugees face such surreal contrasts as they reach safety. I know the old masters understood tragedy, but polka dancing seems an insult worse than itchy horse-rumps. Were we going to return to find our neighbourhood flattened? "We'd feel the blast," Andrew assured me.

After a few hours of wandering the carnival, we safely returned to find everything still standing and the gas smell dissipating. A nap was the only thing lost.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Post Wherein I Pat Myself on the Back

After a couple of posts where I beat myself up over my many mother failings, I figure I owe it to me to sing my own praises. Because a website where I chronicle the mundane details of my life just isn't enough some days. Pass the wine and chocolate. Did I mention I spent $10 in dark chocolate at the grocery store? I excel at self-care.

But to the self-congratulation at hand: I diaper my child in cloth diapers. Yes, I know, I'm awesome. The environment would be sending me a thank you card any day now, but the carbon emissions and use of paper would cancel the minuscule amount of good I'm doing. Don't misunderstand me, I do believe that cloth diapers are an environmentally sound choice (even though they are washed in a washing machine that uses energy and water). I just tried to insert a little humility - you know - to cover the smug expression that creeps over my face whenever I notice my baby's well-padded bum.


Honestly, I do feel a warm glow of smug happiness at the sight of Katya's cloth diapers. But I think that's because they are so darn cute. In case you want the specifics, I use Bummies: they are pre-folds, with separate covers (yes, I speak cloth diaper fluently now). They much cheaper than regular diapers and have I mentioned how cute they are? In an age where guilt is pushed and peddled, it's nice to breath easy over something.

As long as I'm being honest, cloth diapers really aren't that hard. I think they have been mystified somehow. On a daily basis, I find that a little preparation: a diaper pail, a dry sac for the diaper bag, a certain laundry pattern (a cycle that washes and rinses with cold water, then an additional cycle that washes and rinses with hot water) really doesn't overwhelm an already busy life. In the interest of full disclosure, while vacationing, I use disposable diapers and I feel terrible about it. I guess that's why I was surprised to find this article:

NY TIMES: Green but still feeling Guilty

These people are really going for the green gold. They are buying carbon offsets, washing their hands in toilet water; they go green for a living. I find it amazing that they aren't using cloth diapers. Diaper services would even help a mom and dad too busy blogging about greening the world to wash some diapers. I believe the environment does need saving and we have a responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle; I also realize the messengers can be a little annoying.

My plug for cloth diapers is this: You too can recoup in self-congratulations all the effort spent rinsing and washing diapers.

Save the whales.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

V-Day Monologue

Yesterday, I took Katarina for her first round of vaccinations. Those of you in the know realize that this is a little late in the game for a first vaccination. We're on what you would call a delayed schedule. Or as my doctor put it, We're finally making the RIGHT choice for our child.

As in her delicate and oh-so-scientific, "You can choose not to vaccinate your child. You can choose NOT to do what's best for your baby."

Yes, she makes it sound so clear and logical. Obviously, I'm trying to do what's not best for my baby.

Let me back up a little and fill you in on my concerns here. I tried to do a little reading on vaccinations and, wow, does it ever bring out the disproportionately strong opinions. People feel very strongly on both sides of the issue. There are horrible stories of children who contract preventable diseases and horrible stories of children who react to vaccines. People do a lot of name calling and angry ranting. I wish the dialogue could be taken back by the sane people. I guess it's my own little rally cry for some sanity here, where's Jon Stewart when you need him.

I don't want my child to contract a preventable life-threatening disease, but I also don't want my child to have a life-altering reaction to something I purposely give her. Neither of these worst case scenarios is likely; they are each a matter of small percentages. So, to avoid the unlikely chance that my baby will get a certain disease (which I realize is slim, thanks to the prevalence of vaccinations) I take the other unlikely chance that my baby may react to some of the components of the vaccine.

After a bit of reading and research, the more you learn the harder this choice gets, I decided to go for a kind of compromise. It would have been great to be able to discuss this with my doctor, but her answers consist of statements like, "If it wasn't safe, we wouldn't give it to you." Then I'm left wondering, what about the versions of vaccines that that have been discontinued. Is right now the moment in science when we're certain that we understand the way bodies react to the chemicals in the shots? The canon of which shots they choose and how those shots are constructed is evolving. I found Dr. Sears' book and website quite helpful, if you're interested.

I'm not into the crazy conspiracy theories. I was vaccinated as a kid and I'm arguably fine. But kids now get a lot more vaccinations that we did - 39 doses overall. I don't think the drug companies are evil and intentionally trying to make a profit at the expense of the health of the babies who are vaccinated. I just want to be sure I'm making reasonably good choices for my baby. Ultimately, I formed this tentative plan which I approach with fear and trembling:
  • We delayed the start of vaccinations until Katya was six months old. This was reasonably safe because she's exclusively breast-fed, doesn't attend daycare and wasn't at risk of exposure to the diseases we could vaccinate against.
  • Now that her world is expanding, a little bit, I am choosing (with help from good research) which diseases we will vaccinate her against based on the risks of exposure and the safety of the vaccinations. For example: we didn't vaccinate her against Hepatitis B at birth. I don't know that we'll vaccinate her against chicken pox.
So yesterday we embarked on our first vaccination appointment with fear and trembling - the way I've approached a lot of parenting decisions. Everything has been fine. I think my doctor thinks it's the initial sting of the needle that I fear, but I can live with that. Katya hardly reacted to the needle at all. Now, when the doctor wanted to lie still on the table for her measurements - that evoked a great fury of wailing and teeth-gnashing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

File Under Evidence

My baby has a bruise on her forehead, a little purplish semicircle. And it's MY FAULT.

Is it the result of her bolting through my fingers off of the bed? No, that one didn't leave any external markings, I can only conclude the injuries she sustained are internal. I was sitting beside her. I was holding onto her foot. How did she come to be down on the floor wailing at the betrayal of gravity and unreliability of mothers? I don't exactly know. As far as I can tell, she launched herself from the edge of the bed off into space and somehow I did not hold on. She seems to have recovered.

Andrew had to come hold me and say, "You're not a bad mother. You're not a bad mother."

So when he arrived home from work yesterday and noticed the bruise, he asked, "Is this from the bed?"

"Nope, it's empirical evidence of a whole new level of mother failure."

Our little adventurer takes more than her share of tumbles as she now attempts to climb everything in sight. She has even learned to hold her neck up to prevent her head from receiving the first impact of the fall. A small mercy for me.

So, why the bruise? Ah, well, I walked into a pole. while holding her.

This makes me feel awesome. I would worry about CPS looking for me, but I don't even know what they call them in Canada.

If it helps, she is dressed in a purple polka dot dress so the bruise matches.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solid Food: We Hates It


This is Katya before tasting her food:


This is Katya after a bite of pureed apples:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Zen for You or Why I'm Not Regularly Updating This Blog

I apologize for the long silence here. Thanks for your support & encouragement. I miss writing about our little life within our life even as I struggle to live it. You see, the problem is this:


Adorable: absolutely. It's like having an infestation of bunnies. Completely heart-warming, but still overwhelming. My house looks like it's been hit by a 28-inch tornado. My solution: throw a dinner party. Why, you ask? Because I've never recovered the brain cells sacrificed during gestation.

Dinner plans aside, life here is busy. When I managed to squeeze in time to do a little parenting research reading, I discovered that we'd skipped several months of developing because of Katya's determination to be on the move. The section for five month-old babies recommended we master sitting up unassisted. Where, I scanned the pages, was the information on unassisted, one-arm push-ups? Did the six months section cover: how to convince your baby that scaling the walls of her playpen is not safe?

Yes, she is Andrew's daughter. But really? Where's the genetic predisposition to caution that saturates my blood? When I did find the section of the book that describes our child it was under the heading: Accident-Prone Babies.
Does your child race through mobility milestones? Check.
Does your child move on to the next feat without bothering to consider the demands of gravity? Check.
Does your child need to put any and everything in her mouth?
Check.
Diagnosis: You may get to know the staff at your local emergency room on a first-name basis.
And I can't turn to scotch for solace.

There is no tranquility from which to recollect emotion and write. There are occasional minutes of preoccupation in safe spaces (high chair, bouncer seat, middle of the room) that allow me to eat or perform brief mindless tasks.

Currently, I'm writing this standing up, bouncing, while Katya naps in the carrier (because she doesn't like to nap out-of-arms- obviously). You see, I'm learning, making some much needed progress. I even washed dishes the other day, all while playing an elaborate game of fetch from the high chair. Major victory!

When I finally got around to enrolling us in mommy & baby yoga classes (so darn bourgeois-bohemian I can hardly stand it), I discovered something rather telling: Our local yogi welcomes babies 6 weeks to 12 months old, UNLESS they can crawl. Mommy & toddler yoga classes are for children starting at 3 years of age. It dawned on me: Zen and all that accompanies the art of breathing and posing is evidently not for those with creeping crawlers. No zen for me.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Now that's Awkward


I'm proud of my labour and my daughter's birth. I know I haven't written about it yet, but I'm still working out how I want to present it out there on the world wide web, and well, I don't really have a lot of spare time these days... it's coming.

Suffice it to say, I worked really hard, did my best, had a pain-medication-free birth even though I did end up in a hospital on pitocen (stupid arbitrary timetables). I felt overwhelmed in the moment, but strong and capable in the afterglow.

Kim, my friend and doula and the most wonderful woman to walk the earth, was by my side for the it all. She somehow managed to hold my hand, mentor Andrew, play advocate vs the nurses oh, and shoot a great video at the same time. The woman is to be admired.

But to the video, which is the point of the awkwardness. I loved my labour and I'm proud of it. I believe that birth should be viewed as a natural, beautiful part of life, but who exactly should view my labour? (Before my mother begins to have a panic-attack, I am NOT considering posting this video online. She may already be phoning, lecture on internet boundaries primed.) No, I was just at church this morning not really thinking of my birth video when confronted by Kim's 7 year-old son, Niko.

Niko sidles up beside me and says, "Hey, my mom shot a video of Katya's being born."

"Yes, she did."

"She says I can't watch it, because I don't have your permission."

"Hemph."

"Can I watch your birth video?"

"Well, um, birth is a beautiful, natural..." (voice trailing off as I wonder where exactly I'm taking this speech).

"Or would that be awkward for you?" Asks the smiling, seven-year-old boy.

Now it would.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Cop, Bad Mom

My baby is sick. She has a cold, just a little one, and it's terrible. For me. I only assume that it's not really that great for her either. We're new. She coughed and we went to the doctor. Our doctor who is not really our favorite person said she was fine, but recommended we take her to the doctor if she gets worse. I am confused about who our doctor thinks she is and what she thinks we have just done arriving at her medical office and awaiting her white-coated opinion.

All this has lead to a rather serious discovery. My helpmate, my partner, my co-parent, the father of my child has apparently chosen his role and apparently he called it first. He is good cop. Leaving one of us to pick up the slack, in this case, saline drops.

To help Katya (pronounced almost like "Caught-ya" in case you were wondering) breathe better we need to give her tiny nose a little nasal spray. This, incidentally, helps her sleep quieter which helps me sleep better which is never a trivial thing. I tried this nasal sprayer thing out, it's very helpful (I also have the cold), but incredibly unpleasant. She HATES it.

Last night as we were getting ready for bed, it was time for another round of nasal spray. I turned to Andrew to ask which task he wanted: holding her head or spraying her nose. He firmly opted for holding. Then he proceeded to duck out of site by the bed side while offering a single hand around her head. "I'm not getting associated with this thing," he said.

I had an image of Andrew calling out to a teenage version of our daughter, "No you can't go to the movies with that boy," while ducking leaving me standing there alone, bearer of all things unpleasant.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Wasn't Always Like This

When she's older, someone needs to let my daughter know that I always like this. When she's sixteen, rolling her eyes at how impossibly weird her mother acts, I would appreciate it if a friend or family member tossing a bone in my defense.

On some level, I expected motherhood would change me. I was just hoping that change could be a calming, graceful one. I was hoping that we could say, "Well your mother used to have a short temper, but you wouldn't know it." Or: "Your mother's zen-like mastery of the present, wasn't always so obvious." Maybe I've mistaken motherhood for grandmotherhood.

Instead, I find it may just make me strange(r). I firmly believe that the continuous monologue is enough to shed a few braincells and maybe drop a level of self-awareness. I spend hours upon hours talking to a tiny person whose rare reply consists of bubbles and the highly-prized rare, "Goo." The really rewarding grins and smiles come not from my eviscerating wit or sardonic silences, but from high-pitched squeaky noises. So, yeah, I'm cooing with the best of 'em.

Mommy loves baby's smiles and so mommy forfeits her use of pronouns.

The love of the smile also has transported me to a special place where life is a musical. Every occasion can issue a burst of song. This would perhaps be easier if Mommy wasn't tone deaf or strapped for creativity. "We're gonna change your diaper. Yes we are. Yes we are." I seek inspiration everywhere and am drawing heavily from what little I remember of the nursery rhymes. This little piggy went to market and this little piggy, well, he went somewhere else but I know this one cried wee, wee, wee, wee, wee, all the home. Oh hey. One stayed home, right.

And as long as I'm cooing and singing, I might as well dance. Alone. With no music. I bounce all the time now. While out with some people the other night, a young woman asked me, "Do you always need to rock the baby like that, or is this just something you do?" I wasn't feeling too charitable to the question so I let her know that I always rock myself back and forth while sitting at pubs, it makes me feel safe.

Speaking of pubs, once I was quite a home in them. I enjoyed hanging out in bars with friends, without friends, I even went while pregnant (skipping the usual consumption of course). But as I enjoyed a beer with my baby the other night, I noticed a group of college guys pointing at me and talking. I was just about to feel pretty good when I saw that they were talking about the baby being at the bar. Yes, I am going for the mother of the year award.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open Letter to the Man who wrote the Baby Passport Photo Qualifications

This is not an example of a neutral expression.


Dear Sir:

I want you to know, sir, that I am no stranger to exercises in futility. I was an English major, hell, I specialized in 19th-century British literature. The second language I speak most fluently is pig-latin. I don't remove tags that threaten legal action. I blog one-handed. But, I have never engaged in a task so futile as attempting to meet the qualifications for a infant passport photograph.

Even if I manage to suspend my disbelief to grant that an infant needs a Canadian passport in this post-9/11 world, I still cannot forgive you for requiring that an infant passport requires a photograph. In three years, will the border guards be able to discern which two-month-old has grown into which toddler? What happens if her eyes change colour? Will our passport be invalid? In short, I was not feeling charitable toward you from the beginning, but did not imagine how difficult you could make this.

You obviously are a single man; you probably still live at home, in your mother's basement. She probably told you a stork dropped you on her doorstep. You may never have met a real baby. Babies, you see, don't really understand the command, "make a neutral expression." It's not what makes all those Kodak moments. To be fair, I have captured hundreds of blank expressions while begging for smiles. However, the professional photographer, strange studio, and plethora of clapping, snapping, clucking strangers really threw my daughter off her game.

But that wasn't all you asked of us. You couldn't just let me hold her. You specified no hands or arms holding the baby in the picture. You should try holding that neutral expression while someone has their hands under your shirt. Those hands seemed necessary, sir, because my two- month-old baby cannot perch on the stool by herself. She's slow like that. She doesn't hold her own head up consistently.

We might have managed your hoops had you left it at that. We had to come back for a second appointment because it seems the baby wouldn't make eye contact with the camera. Now don't think that she doesn't hold eye contact, because she's an eye-contacting genius of a baby. She just is particular. She doesn't make eye contact with strangers, five feet away, even if they say that name which she doesn't really know is hers.

Now after the second trip, after I WOKE HER UP from a lovely sleep, the baby gave it her very best shot and we emerged with two photographs. We had our priest guarantee that the photo was of our baby, he swore and signed it himself. We have respectfully (more or less) submitted the photograph and application.

The nice woman who took processed our information looked at the photographs and said, "Gosh, they may not accept these photographs." As I gathered my jaw from the floor to ask why, she said apologetically, "you can't see her neck."

Sir, the answer to that is simple: she doesn't have one. She only has chins which attach directly to her torso.

Yours sincerely,

Dana JW Telep

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did you know there are really 24 hours in a day?

I do now. I know those hours differently than before, because now I could be awake for any one of them. I should probably be careful here, because deep down, I suspect that my baby may be on the angelic side of the spectrum and there are probably people with far more cause to complain out there. But wow! Motherhood is not for the weak.

A few days ago, Andrew and I were musing on how our baby could possibly be three weeks old (crazy!), when I confessed that in some ways it seems like more than three weeks had passed. Andrew, without missing a beat, said, "That's because we've been awake for most of them."

And it's TRUE. We HAVE been awake most of that time. We sleep in one to two hour stretches and increasingly often we have three hour sessions. It is blowing my mind that a person can live like this, but I am living (I think this qualifies as living). Mom has reminded me that sleep deprivation is a torture technique and so perhaps that means I'm even more inclined to give up any secrets I might have been keeping. I have promised her that soon I'm going to make use of my breast pump in order to take a longer break, but somehow I'm not quite ready yet.

These last few weeks have been a continuous loop with only a few notes: feeding, sleeping, changing and some staring at each other and rocking. I don't know if it's possible to convey how incredibly engrossing these tasks have become. Superficially, it seems quite simple and in theory a person should be able to function normally. Oh, but did I mention that we haven't yet mastered the art of sleeping out of arms or really even away from someone? Don't get me wrong, we see remarkable improvement each day, but we started with a cuddly baby who loves to be held and we have a cuddly baby who loves to be held.

Have I mentioned how fond she is of eating? She is definitely her mother's daughter and heck she's also her father's daughter in this aspect. The kid loves to eat and she doesn't just eat: she dines. Casually taking her time, she eats for twenty to forty minutes at a time. Occasionally, she eats so long she wants to eat again. (Yes, that's technically cluster feeding and is a normal practice before longer sleeps or when trying to get more milk to come in). Breastfeeding is also not for the weak. I see how those with less conviction could end up formula feeding.

Speaking of eating, Andrew has arrived home with dinner and our baby is at the end of a sleep. I better dash to dine while I can.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Churching Katarina






Katya's introduction to the church was just lovely. She managed to sleep throughout the Holy Saturday morning liturgy, waking only when she was to be the center of attention for the ceremony that welcomes her into the church. She then carefully observed the proceedings with her trademark wrinkled brow. As her grandmother Kitty said, she behaved perfectly and set the bar pretty high for a baby's first church visit.

Her Telep grandparents were there to celebrate Easter with her and we were joined by Aunt Lizzy who provided us with these beautiful photographs. Also, in honour of the occasion, Katya wore her Aunt Lizzy's dress.

One angry baby


I don't think I want to know what she's thinking here, but her face is so over the top that I can't help laughing. In fact, the picture kills me. But what does that say about me as a mother?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Katarina's First Day

A few pictures of Katya.






video


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Katarina Rose Telep

Katarina arrived last night 9:24 pm. She is healthy, happy and here.
The statistics:
She weighs 7lbs 4oz
She's 21 inches tall
She's objectively the most beautiful baby ever to be born.

I will be happy to say more later and to provide pictures, but there is feeding and sleeping and loving and recovering to attend to. Thank you for all your prayers.

Love,

Dana, Andrew & Katya

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yes we are aware that March 7th has past

Everyday we're experiencing small steps towards bringing this new life into the world. No giant leaps yet.

Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated. I will be happy to announce soon the arrival of our little girl.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Expectant Fathers: Tread Lightly

Tread lightly, for you tread, not exactly on our dreams, but on our fears which are more prevalent. I have had several friends comment on their sympathy for Andrew during these final days. They mention things like having known the "wrath" of pregnant women or having experienced their "craziness." Last night as I cried over nothing, very precisely, crying because nothing was happening, Andrew, 9 months wiser, held me and said, "Maybe you're experiencing an increase in hormones because your body is getting ready to go into labour."

He understood. Ah, but he still underestimates me. Today, as we surveyed the nest and the hard work we've done, Andrew asked after the location of several baby-related items. Where, he asked, were the clothes? How was he to know how to dress the baby, he asked? He then, proceeded in mock-panic to wonder how he could manage the simplest of baby care tasks. What should she wear? How was he to know what was appropriate?

"I'm not sure," I answered, "the books say to dress the baby in as many layers as you're wearing plus one more."

"As many layers as I wear? Or as many you wear?" He asked.

"I don't know," I said. "I've wondered about that. It took me a long time to pack our hospital bag."

Laughing, Andrew said, "Is it because you imagine that when you pull out the clothes, the nurses will gasp in horror and say, 'Surely, you're not putting her in that?'" He then continued to set the scene. These nurses would laugh or whisper to one another, "Did you see what she thought of putting the baby in? She's an unfit mother." He laughed and looked up at me.

"Wait. Why are you crying?" he asked.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 7th is in 5 days.

I obviously have not had a baby yet or I wouldn't be sitting here typing another blog entry. We're saving Andrew's big foray into the blogging world for that initial "we've had a baby message." Andrew thinks I should type the script mad lib style and he can just fill in the missing information.

It could read something like:

We would like to welcome _____ _____ Telep into the World! ____ arrived at __ o'clock _m. ___ weighs ___ lbs and ___ oz and measures ___ inches. Dana was ____ during labour and Andrew did ____.

So there's the basic script. I feel confident that he can rise to the occasion and think of those details himself. Meanwhile, we're just here hanging out passing the time. According to our latest midwife's appointment, we're still proceeding normally, baby and I are healthy and my cervix is just waiting for some contractions to kick the whole thing into gear.

This is truly a challenging time. I would love to tell you that I'm an incredibly patient person who is savoring as instructed these "last" moments of time alone, or with just Andrew. I have had lots of well-meaning people remind me that I will look back upon this time and wish I had relished it or not wanted to rush past it. And yes I probably will, but if I'm honest with myself, I just might remember what it really felt like to be here.

It's a nice enough time, don't get me wrong. I have the gift of being able to take my time. I don't have to be anxious about preparations or a short maternity leave. I am grateful to Andrew for taking up the difficult task of providing the income for our single income family. I have the "nest" fairly prepared as well - you could always do more, but things are looking good around here. Andrew has also played a large role in refinishing furniture, repairing broken things and lending a decorating opinion or two. I guess what I'm saying is Andrew has been a great husband, caring father and overall good guy.

But often I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff. I know that I will be jumping from the cliff shortly and I've been given all sorts of advice about it. Most of the advice involves how I cannot imagine all that the cliff has to offer and that I cannot do enough to prepare for the experience. So, I'm looking over the edge and thinking, "If we're going to do this; let's jump already."

We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Room In

We have 11 days until our due date! Our midwife says she doesn't expect us to make it that long. I suspect she and I interpret that sentence very differently. She does not expect, based on the baby's position and the state of my cervix, that I will still be pregnant on March 7th. I am not above thinking that I may not "make it" in some more definite existential sense.

I spend a lot of time these days analyzing physical sensations. Is that labour? Is that labour, now? I even got excited about throwing up all my breakfast thinking, "That's got to be some sort of pre-labour sign." No, in fact, it's a sign that I threw up all my breakfast. Sigh.

Managing my expectations of this time is proving more difficult than I thought. On one hand, I am feeling pretty calm and together. I realize that if I went into labour without the fridge being perfectly stocked with groceries I could survive. I realize that I won't reach a point of emptying my to-do list and that it won't ultimately matter. I don't want to rush these last days and I don't want to miss being in the moment.

On the other hand, I am drinking raspberry leaf tea like it's going out of style (it helps focus those braxton hicks contractions). I walked to the midwife appointment yesterday thinking that could "kick start" my labour. I figured the worst that could happen was that I wouldn't make it all the way there. I am planning a walk to the health food store for primrose oil. Let's meet this baby!

I did have a moment or two of hesitation about my eagerness to begin the labour. Moments of "how in the world am I actually going to give birth." A fellow pregnant friend asked what pain medications I was considering. Since I'm planning to be at home that limits my options (severely). "Wow," she said, "You're brave." As you probably realized, she's a new friend, not well-acquainted with me or else she would know that I'm not the least bit brave. Naive, certain that my choice is the best starting place for my baby, well-read, blissfully ignorant - yes. Brave - no. Remember, the mantra is: If you can't be brave, at least be funny. We're going for funny.

And speaking of funny. Our little one has her own sense of fun. It involves contorting my belly. This used to be a game that we both really enjoyed. I would get excited by the movement. She, I can only guess from repetition, would get excited by moving. Now, the enjoyment is seeming to wane for the both of us. The belly doesn't accommodate fully stretched legs like it did before.

Here is the belly before the game:

Here is the belly during the game. Please note my upper right side.
This is as comfortable as you would imagine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The reality is slowly settling in

I've been writing about being pregnant for about nine months now. You're probably aware that pregnancy usually leads to babies, but for some reason that little fact has been eluding me. There are 18 days between now and our due date and I'm beginning to realize that I'm HAVING a baby.

Here are a few clues that have tipped me off:
  • I can't see my toes
  • I can see my belly (finally!)
  • I wake up every hour or two during the night
  • I have a single subject of conversation
  • I packed a bag of things to bring to the hospital, just in case
  • I have a birthing tub in my cellar
  • I did my first load of tiny, mostly pink, baby laundry
Look at this teeny, tiny sock! How am I supposed to keep up with these things? I lose Andrew's socks and they are 18 times this size. A more paranoid version of me could reason: if I am incapable of tracking tiny baby socks, then I am incapable of tracking tiny baby.

Apparently, my subconscious is urging me to think along these lines. The night I did her laundry, I dreamed that Andrew and I had the baby and decided to take her for a walk without putting ANY clothes on her at all. In the dream, we walked several blocks before it occurred to me that she should be wrapped in something. I then asked Andrew to sacrifice his windbreaker for this purpose, not even my own soft, fleece jacket. Also in the dream, I put our naked, freezing baby in a cheap, flimsy umbrella stroller where her little head bounced all over the place. Argh! I woke up in a panic. I'm doing my best to be rational and calm here, but I'm being sabotaged from within.

Paranoia aside, we're pretty much good to go anytime now. The baby is officially full term. However, Andrew has a work training session to go to in Ottawa (five hours from here). He had the option of going now until Saturday or going the week we're due. We figured now was a relatively safer option. Realistically speaking, I'm not showing any immediate signs of labour and when I start there is enough time for him to come home. Nevertheless, feel free to add a small prayer that she will hang in there until Saturday night - after that, I'm happy for her to come join us.

But when do you think the baby will come? Feel free to amuse/terrify me with your best guess for our little one's arrival. The Telep family has a pool going - so I'll extend the invitation to the rest of our friends and family. Send me your guesses and we'll see who knows best!

Friday, February 12, 2010

37 Weeks!


I haven't really been great at taking photos of my belly's progress. I am now looking substantially pregnant. Just in time to have the baby.

And yes. My bellybutton does appear to be off-center. I didn't know that was even possible.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursdays are NOT my days

I really tempted fate by titling my last post "Practicing Patience." Maybe I was guilty of perpetuating the stereotype of a serene, pregnant lady patiently rocking herself awaiting word from the bundle of joy within. As punishment for the smugness, karma today has me hyped on hormones, sore in the belly and out in public. Beware the waddling woman making her way down the store aisles.

I just wanted to return a notebook that I bought. I am searching for a good baby book and I wanted something that didn't scream: I'm a baby book. I wanted something tasteful that allowed me to write whatever I wanted. I thought I had an ok candidate, but I changed my mind - see hormones. I went to exchange it and the sales lady at the stationary store told me no. They don't take returns after 7 days of purchase. This notebook was wrapped in plastic, in the bag, with the receipt. Sorry she said, with no trace of actual sorrow in her voice. It's just our policy.

Well, she was soon informed that it was a ridiculous policy. And the point of all of this isn't that I'm right and this stationary store is wrong. It's that I'm pregnant and tired with the temper control of a rabid bulldog and these people aren't. After a 15 minute call to the store manager (after leaving), I am assured that she will make an exception for me and return this stupid notebook because I'm angry. This does not assuage the anger the way you would expect.

Now, I'm thinking of sending Andrew back with the notebook, because I am not overly eager to walk back in playing the role of pregnant diva. It should be said, this store has given me consistently lousy customer service in the past and its college-age girls are always more interested in talking to one another than doing their job. I have often felt that perhaps I should be dressed nicer or trendier to better suit their tastes while shopping there. I proceed to tell the manager, about the several experiences I've had with her sales team and I'm even able to recall their various conversation topics on previous visits as I looked for help. She says, "Well, it sounds like you've got two separate issues." Lady, I've got more separate issues than you'd care to know, but you've got one store and I'm never giving you my business again. "Can you drive back to the store today?" she asks. It was not in anyone's best interest to send me there again today.

So I continued on to the grocery store. I behaved myself quite admirably and waddled all around collecting groceries. Each item into the basket had me feeling like more and more of a cliche. Yes I am buying two jars of pickles; they are different flavors. Yes, I am riffling through a giant mountain of chocolates that is on sale. I like chocolates. I like them better on sale. And yes, I did just purchase my limit on frozen pizzas because they are delicious and they are a third of their normal price. I was ready to take on anyone that had a problem with this. Anyone?

And then disaster struck. My favorite brand of chips was not in stock. DISCLAIMER: the rest of my purchases were fruit and vegetables and yogurts and other foods that a pregnant person should be eating - but I have been craving sweet and salty all week. But the chips! These are not just any chips. They are Miss Vickie's Honey and Roasted Garlic Potato Chips. They are not a pregnancy craving. They are unequivocally the most delicious chips you will ever eat. When you eat these chips, you do not care that your breath will drive others away. Driving others away is a serious benefit, because then you will not have to share your chips with them. Wise people who know better than to leave the presence of greatness have joined me in confirming that these are, in fact, amazing chips. So given this self-evident truth, why is my grocery store no longer carrying them?

Heads may roll before this new mission is through. I really want to be a nice and agreeable pregnant lady. I realize that this is entirely irrational and that I'm potentially not in the right here.

However, my pregnant brain is gnashing her teeth and howling, "How much injustice can a person handle in one day? I have given up so much: beer, wine, sushi, wine, coffee, ahi tuna, sleeping, seeing my toes, retrieving things from the floor, for the love, please don't take away my chips too! "

NOTE: I phoned to warn Andrew his house was not safe and his wife was not sane (no one can say I'm not fair to him). He then did not return home until 7:30 this evening. He was not drinking at the bar to avoid me. Bless him, he was canvassing the neighbourhood in search of the chips. He returned home unsuccessful -where are these chips?, but he brought more chocolate. He just may turn out to be a man who is prepared for a daughter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Practicing Patience

Yesterday, Carole, our midwife, came for our first home visit. We received a clean bill of health from the ultrasound. Fluid levels and the baby's size are just fine. We're back up to normal measurements: 36 cm for 36 weeks. By the way, isn't that amazing? The uterus or fundus measures in centimeters roughly the same number of weeks one is pregnant. Nice touch up there, God, You really outdid Yourself with that little bit of trivia. So last week's short measurement was just a fluke or a weird position.

Now we are to the waiting game. We are 36 weeks pregnant - we have about 25 more days!!

In case you're wondering, we are planning a home birth. This choice, while becoming less surprising or radical than it was, has still led to some interesting conversations. In Canada, where midwifery is becoming far more common, home births are recommended ONLY if a pregnancy has presented nothing unusual and has no complications. So when I say we are planning to have the baby at home it means that Andrew & I understand that this will only happen if we have every indication that the baby and I are healthy and that everything is happening safely. So far so good. Our little one is keeping her head down, her vitals up and I'm feeling good.

We are approaching the birth of our child with fear and trembling and we are not seeking to prove anything or take risks with our child's health and well-being or with mine. We actually believe that this is a safe and healthy way to have a child and we're not alone: studies have found that births at home are as safe or safer than births at hospitals (http://mothering.com/canadian-homebirth-study). We are holding the expectation very loosely with the knowledge that it could change at any point.

We happen to live down the street from the hospital (it's a five minute walk). I have even assured my mother that in the event of a severe blizzard, Andrew could drag me on a sled to the hospital. She asked, "Do you have a sled?" Well, truth be told, we'd have to build it; but he's a resourceful guy, I'm sure he'd think of something. Also, the wise and wonderful Kim will be around and she's a paramedic. In addition, we will have two very experienced midwives who will be supplying everything from oxygen and suction masks to the pitocin necessary for stopping abnormal blood loss after birth.

In an ideal world, we will have our little girl right here. I have rented a birthing tub that we will pick up tonight (they just called!). Water has shown to have many of the same pain-relieving effects as medication for labouring women and God knows that I love a good bath. I have acquired all the things needed for the homebirth: drop cloths, extra sheets, towels, thermometers. Carole came and checked out our house and was pleased with what she found. We've been re-arranging furniture and nesting like our lives depend on it and I'm pleased to say that things are coming together nicely.

Carole officially approved of our space for birthing. She did mention that a glance at our crazy backdoor neighbour's house and all of it's kitsch made her hope that she hadn't misjudged us. "The Christmas decorations were still up" (and so are Easter & Halloween ones), she said laughing. I nodded knowingly and silently thanked God that Andrew had removed our garland last night.

Now we begin to wait. But while we're waiting: I've got chairs to re-cover, pictures to hang and Andrew has dressers to refinish. Wait, maybe we should repaint all the trim so it looks better. Lord, is that kitchen cabinet messy again? Perhaps I should organize the wine cellar for easier access?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pregnancy is Not for the Faint of Heart

I begin to suspect that many of the blogging entries about my pregnancy will either serve as birth control for my friends or as evidence of my increasing mental instability. I don't believe that was my original intention, but as Ina May Gaskin said in Spiritual Midwifery, "If you can't be a hero, you can at least be funny while being a chicken." This, as you can well imagine, has instantly become my mantra. I may have it inscribed on the walls during the birth.

I am a chicken. Ina May has some other fascinating 70s name for it, but I can't remember what. I only remember reading about this not very brave, strong person and recognizing myself immediately. I can cautiously over-think and worry myself into a tizzy in record time. And now, faced with the mind-blowingly Brobdingnagian prospect of bearing a child, is no exception. Brobdingnagian - you're wondering? Dictionaries are fun. It came from Gulliver's Travels, meaning giant. I like it's daunting size and unfamiliarity; it contributes a bit more to what I'm trying to say.

The seriousness of person-creating, the intricacies of the human body and its development, the shear magnitude of it all is wondrous... and paralyzing. But then the actuality and eventuality of pregnancy frequently consumes my focus to the point that I forget entirely about anything beyond my aching back, throbbing belly or burning esophagus. This preoccupation isn't unique to pregnancy: GK Chesterton's best stories call readers to live in a way where we realize the wonders that make up our world. It's just that when you're pregnant these wonder-full, cosmic, and often preposterous things are happening IN YOUR BODY.

All this to say that yesterday's 35th week appointment at the midwife's was going along swimmingly. I have gained 20 pounds, my blood pressure is normal, the baby moves often, her heart is strong, she is not too big and my fundus height measured 32cm. And then the midwife recommended we go get an ultrasound. I was just cruising through this information, when Andrew casually said, "What was the measurement last time?"

"Is it normal to get a second ultrasound now?" "Well," said Carol "No. Not Really."

Please insert the sound of my mind crashing into itself like a conga line.

"No? Not normal?"

Carol quickly and carefully said she was not alarmed.

"Good for her."

Nor should we be alarmed. All the ultrasound would do is clear up a little guesswork as to why my fundus was not as large as it should be at this stage. It was actually measuring smaller than had previously. Comforted by the scientific fact that babies don't shrink, this leaves a few other explanations: the baby was just in a funny position, the amniotic fluid level was low because I was a little dehydrated, the baby is already moving down into position to be born, or the amniotic fluid level is low for some other reason. So, while it's never ideal to hear anything is unusual during pregnancy, there's not really a cause to get upset.

I'm repeating that phrase regularly. We got the ultrasound this morning and we'll find out more Monday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Aptly Named Pregnancy Symptoms

I've taken umbrage at the lousy job linguists have done in naming a few pregnancy symptoms. I feel I'm being charitable in charging these unknown individuals only with incompetence and not with malicious intent to deceive. Morning sickness tops my list as the worst of their offenses. Nesting may just be open to interpretation, but I think we deserved better. One could argue that nest-building birds may not be inherently peaceful, maybe they are all like those poor humming birds: "Must go a thousand miles per hour. Can't stop or I'll die."

Last night while copying out my recipe collection onto matching cards, because God knows you can't have a baby if your recipes don't coordinate, I felt something strange. It took a while before I really paid the feeling any attention because, frankly, I am feeling strange all the time. Then I felt it more acutely. What was that tightening, contracting feeling that was squeezing my whole belly into a giant knot?

A Contraction? Why yes, I was contracting. Don't you go and panic - they weren't the real ones. I, of course, experienced a strong shot of panic, because not panicking really never occurs to a person who consists entirely of nerve endings fed by hormones. They weren't painful; they were just noticeable. They are called Braxton-Hicks Contractions - the contracting of the uterus as your muscles prepare for the marathon of "real" contractions that push out babies. They can begin quite early in pregnancy (you just don't feel them usually).

Kudos to the naming people on this one. Contracting is exactly what it feels like. That giant movable mass out front that is threatening the existence of your bellybutton starts squeezing itself into a smaller tighter ball. And Braxton-Hicks, while obviously the man who put his name on the medical paper to verify that such things exist, isn't bad either. Is it my imagination or does it resemble a curse of some kind? At the very least, it goes well when accentuated by a stream of curses. As when, upon gaining hold of your panic at the contracting feeling in your uterus and your due date is still 6 weeks away, you say: "It's only Braxton-blankety-blank-Hicks contractions."

I'm just a walking saleswoman for pregnancy aren't I?

Another example of an aptly named symptom: Heartburn. "My God." you say, "What is this horrible burning sensation above my heart?" Ahhh. While you may not achieve actual relief from the burning you at least feel the satisfaction of understanding what the deuce is happening in your body. And by this point, having something you can understand is great comfort.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nesting is a Misnomer like Morning Sickness

Early on in the pregnancy, I read this great article about nesting. The author suggested that if President Obama wanted to accomplish his very full agenda he needed to employ a group of third- trimester-pregnant women. These women driven by the insatiable instinct to accomplish tasks NOW would fix the economy, health care and global warming quick and dirty. At the time, I was wallowing in the first trimester and could not see past the idea of leaving the bathroom (I carried those airplane bags around with me - and I used them). This article offered me a ray of hope: eventually I was going to be functioning, not just functioning, but efficient, possibly even productive, uber-productive.

What I failed to notice in the article was that the mothers-to-be weren't just solving the nation's problems; they were doing it desperately to keep the last shards of their sanity from slipping into the abyss. Last night, I lay awake on the verge of panic. How am I going to be ready in time for the baby's arrival? She is coming in 6 weeks. But it could be earlier! She could very easily come in 4 weeks! SOMEONE PANIC WITH ME! EVERYBODY PANIC WITH ME!

Where is that gloriously productive nesting period I was so looking forward to experiencing? Instead, I am frantically composing to-do lists which include tasks like: having my iron count checked, choosing a stroller, copying & filing all of my loose recipes, and going through all of the half used paint cans in the basement to find the matching trim paint to touch up the crown molding. And it has to be done NOW. And I feel no magical boost of energy. Instead, I have a big belly that impedes my ability to bend over; I run out of breath climbing the stairs and my lovely little one is samba-dancing across my bladder.

Then my friend Kim graciously told me: THIS is the nesting instinct.

THIS is not what I had in mind. THIS is not fun. THIS feels like an anxiety attack married an obsessive compulsive disorder and decided to have a baby. [And I just realized that I have to re-organize all my kitchen cabinets, again, because they are messy which means Andrew will never find anything when he's doing the postpartum cooking and he will have to ask me where we keep the salt. And where is that anti-heartburn tea I've been saving for the third trimester? ]

I begin to understand how my friend Aminah spent the first part of her labour re-upholstering her dinning room chairs: it had to be done before the baby could be born. It wasn't that she was smoothly running on superhuman endorphins. She simply got up after each contraction, picked up her nail gun, and resumed her task because it HAD to be done.

I would love to stay and write, but I've got to get back to creating a digital address book, eating lunch and considering which organic, scent-free baby detergent is best. And of course, I need to do this NOW. Perhaps, I'll also write another letter to my old Texas Senator to remind him that universal health care should trump partisan politics and that we should seek alternative holistic approaches to improving the quality of life in Afghanistan.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Love in Marriage

This May, Andrew and I will have been married for five years. Sometimes, I feel like the soothsayer when greeting newlyweds. Beware... but really, I try be honest and helpful. Instead of passing on another sugarcoated saying to people looking a little seasick so early in their voyage. I have often been the one who grimly pats them on the back and says, "It gets easier." And really it does. It also has amazing times where you realize how very much you love your spouse.

Today, we met with our midwife. We jumped through all the regular hoops and everything is going well. I don't have diabetes or irregular blood pressure. Our daughter's heart beat is strong and steady. Andrew now bites his tongue when the midwife derives various less-scientific conclusions from this: "She's sporty. She's happy. etc." Andrew has been at most every visit with me and he chooses to be there. I'm thrilled to have a such an active support and partner in this endeavour.

The rumor has it that pregnant women have insatiable cravings. This may be true; I can't really say. I've always had food cravings and can't imagine life without them. Frequently, they are not exactly the healthiest and most wholesome of foods (in my defense, last week, I craved cucumbers & bell peppers). I like to indulge in a bag of Little Ceasar's bread sticks. They are delicious and garlicky and good. Andrew is aware of this. He's also aware that I never intend to share the bag of bread sticks (they have gotten much smaller over the years).

While picking up pizza for his lunch today, Andrew remembered me and ordered a bag of bread sticks. However, I had reached the midwife's clinic by the time he did and was already in the room with the midwife. Andrew arrived and casually handed me a small, discreet, GAP bag.

My heart flooded with love and cholesterol as I realized what the bag contained. Not a benign pair of mittens or a t-shirt, but a clandestine package of greasy, garlicky, carbohydrates. He knew! He understood!

He had not only thought of how much I would enjoy a tasty afternoon snack, he realized I would have been embarrassed to be caught with such fare by our medical practitioner. Not embarrassed enough to forgo eating such foods, just embarrassed enough to be thrilled at his subterfuge. No wonder he chuckled as the midwife said, "You're quite healthy!"

He loves me!

Friday, January 15, 2010

HIccups

Andrew and I were lying in bed last night when my belly began to spasm. It wasn't a scary large spasm just a very localized little outburst. The baby was regularly seeming to jump just a little bit. She then moved and kicked around with increasing speed but the spasms kept coming.

This as you might imagine isn't on the list of things that a person easily sleeps through. I rolled over trying to shift the jumping kicking one into less action. Our baby had the hiccups. She must have just gotten around to sampling the last of Pepe's tamales that I ate that evening. I'd read that spicy food makes babies hiccup; I just didn't imagine it would wake me up and last a solid ten minutes in the middle of the night.

Sleeping is not terribly difficult for me. I've heard it's often difficult for pregnant women to sleep. I am managing this quite well in spite of the frequent trips to the bathroom and strange stomach back pains. I credit my awesome pillow that Peter & Angela lent to me and the fact that I'm unemployed. If I don't sleep well at night, I just keep sleeping into the morning.

There are some serious drawbacks to not having a job, lack of money, for instance. However, I am fairly convinced that this time has been really important in helping me to prepare for motherhood. Don't get me wrong, I'm not tempting fate by saying I'm actually prepared, but I think that my healthy, uneventful pregnancy is directly related to the lower stress levels, and the time I'm able to dedicate to this baby-growing enterprise.

On an unrelated note: Andrew & I are seeking a volunteer to come live with us for the next few days. After his first night of RIM's pick-up basketball, he realized that the muscles which propel one to "jump" are not muscles that he has used in a while. The unfortunate side effect of this otherwise happy discovery is that bending down is painful. Meanwhile, I who am carrying an extra 20 pounds out front and have a person growing in my abdomen am beginning to give up all life below knee level. Andrew dropped something on the floor last night and we both leaned over and looked at it - then returned to our conversation. This could lead to a messy house and both of us forgoing some basics like shoes.

Would someone like to come pick up things for us for a while?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's only a flesh wound...

...but the genetic makeup that created this situation is being reconstituted and handed down a generation as we speak. What exactly is going on in the picture above, you ask? I'm cooking dinner. You don't cook dinner attired so carefully? Well if my father and husband were "helping" you - then you might.

My mother left the house for twenty minutes. I was making dinner for the family that night. I mentioned that I needed a pan - a cast iron skillet. Chaos ensued. The giant skillet my Dad retrieved needed to be cured - the curing handled by Dad & Andrew (a butane torch was involved) smoked the house up and set off fire alarms. The pan was then so hot that the oil shot out at least five feet in all directions as I tried to cook the lamb chops. The dynamic duo then "fixed" the situation by suiting me up as a Monty Python Knight. Mustard seeds may still be embedded in my skin from the incident.

I'm told that this doesn't necessarily happen to other families. Some families can just cook a dinner or take on a project. Not mine. And now I'm bringing another person to the fun. It will be interesting to see how our daughter decides to carve her own niche in this traveling circus. Will she use a blow torch? Will she cut out her place with sarcasm and irony? I know she'll find our troupe more than willing to smooth her path and make her welcome. I wonder when she'll first notice that we're not exactly normal? I hope she learns to laugh and take pride in who we are. We may be a little crazy and do things our own way, but I know that my baby will be loved and accepted for whoever she wants to be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If God wanted pregnant women to fly

The airlines don't recommend flying after you reach a certain point in your pregnancy. During our Christmas travels, I have come to believe that this is unrelated to air pressure and more directly tied to the stress you undergo from terrible airline customer service.

I should say, I'm not a stellar flyer anyway. I don't get sick (not counting the newly pregnant flights I took). I am not afraid of heights nor of mysteriously floating metal tubes filled with flu-infected people breathing my same air. I am a worrier and nothing gives you the opportunity to worry like a day of deadlines and strict schedules and thousands of variables.

As soon as I earned my own wings and began flying solo, I arrived at airports two hours early, before it was required, afterwards, I made it three and sometimes four if it was a miserable place like DFW. I hate that airport and have long known what puts in the f in DFW. Then, I married a man who is allergic to waiting in airports. His ideal travel scenario is cruising through check-in and security and stepping directly onto your waiting aircraft. You can do this in his model, not because you own the plane, but because it has already boarded and everyone else is seated in the final preparations before take-off. This as you may notice leaves no time for error, and I am a committed anticipator of airport error.

Our flight from Pittsburgh (we drove there) to El Paso was relatively smooth. My anxiety at the rising levels of falling snow was kept under control and we made it out with just a slight delay. That slight delay then meant that we had 15 minutes to navigate DF Worthlesses catacombs to reach our connecting gate. (Insert mental image of frantic pregnant lady running through airport here.) Andrew cleverly checked that fear by providing us with up-to-the-minute flight information revealing our connecting flight was also delayed and we had an oh-so-comfortable margin of 45 minutes to go from terminal A to terminal C. Ha, we stopped to pick up ice cream on the way.

After a lovely holiday with family and friends, we returned to the airport. Only it was an airport in which security had lost their minds and the entire Sun Bowl was ahead of us in line. However, I kept myself relatively calm and we walked through security directly onto our waiting plane. We took off to Pittsburgh with a short, but comfortable stop over in Dallas.

Traveling pregnant is not much fun. Early on, I was incredibly sick. Now, I'm too big to be comfortable. I'm not even really big yet either. People still are mistaking me for being either slightly pregnant or slightly fat. I am 31 weeks pregnant here - that's 7 months! There's 20 pounds out in front of me now, granted it distributes itself a bit, but this belly is in my way.

The baby's not terribly crazy about it either. It may be my very active imagination, but I am convinced that as we took-off, she reacted. Right as the plane pulled away, I felt all four limbs stick me in various places like she was bracing herself from a fall. I also imagined her franticly saying to me, "What the heck was that? You didn't tell me we were doing anything out there." She hasn't done this acrobatic trick again, but I have rubbed my belly and Andrew explained everything to her in subsequent take-offs.

Our little stop over in Dallas proved a bit more eventful than we imagined. A "customer service" agent helpfully encouraged us not to worry about not finding our connecting flight listed on the board or on any gate - he assured us it was taking off at its appointed time and gate. Only telling us about it's cancellation due to mechanical problems after we enjoyed an hour of wasted could-be-finding-another-flight time. He then became too busy with no other customers to help us rebook a way to Pittsburgh.

We danced through the half-truths and attempts to shuffle us out the door for the next few hours. Andrew deftly negotiated with these liars and losers while I alternated between concentrating on my sore back and concentrating on angry tears and inappropriate language. Then, I learned I wasn't going to arrive in time to make my (very happy last minute) flight to North Carolina in time to greet my baby brother as he arrived from Afghanistan. Pregnancy plus big sister plus war plus incompetence is not a pretty combination. Andrew then had to concentrate on keeping me from the American Airlines people's throats - all of them, any of them.

In the end, Andrew flew to Pittsburgh and lake-effect snow standing between him and our house. I had to laugh (a cynical, hysterical laugh) as it became painfully obvious that I had walked into a twilight zone where nothing functioned. Our checked bags were somewhere in the system not to be had, there was no C-2 baggage claim, our hotel reservation at the Westin was no longer available to us, the new hotel had no restaurant or internet, the shuttle driver forgot that I was second on her list to drop off, the fun kept going. I had a night's stay at a smokey hotel, but I arrived in North Carolina. I am here; armed only with a too-heavy-for-me-to-lift carry-on bag that contains: a very random assortment of my clothes and Andrew's, no toiletries, and no Christmas presents for Ryan. Ryan is expected this evening! Things are beginning to work themselves out.

This wasn't yet terribly obvious to me though as the guy next to me on the flight said, "I really like your hair." Thank you, I said, thinking maybe having no make-up or shampoo wasn't the end of the world. "Yeah," he continued. "You sure don't see many females with short hair." I took an immediate and profound interest in the contents of the Sky Mall catalogue.